Saturday, September 18, 2010

Guest Blog - Candle for a Corpse

At the moment, my husband and I are living in a huge apartment/condominium complex in Northern Virginia. One of the minor amenities is a small library in the "commons" area. It is completely borrow and return on your own. No oversight whatsoever. Recently I picked up a few mysteries to read. I started a very promising little one by a Canadian author I did not know. However, I was not stealing time from other responsibilities to read it. That really is my measure of how much I am enjoying a book.

I picked up another book and started reading it and didn't want to put it down after the first few pages. I have heard of English author Ann Granger but don't think I have ever read anything that she has written. This one, Candle for a Corpse, is a cozy mystery. Right up my alley.

When a grave is opened to bury an elderly woman with her long gone parents, the grave diggers discover the bones of a young woman. Superintendent Alan Markby and his friend Meredith Mitchell become involved in trying to find out who the young woman was and how long ago she was killed and buried. It is a satisfying mystery with plenty of interesting characters and complications.

The book had another intriguing feature. Periodically all of the way through the book, words were underlined. Perhaps only one on a page. Some pages had no underlining. At the beginning of the book little notes had been made next to the highlighted words. The notes were in Chinese characters. Of course, I was interested in the mystery of the paperback book itself. I noticed that the underlined words were usually ones that were idioms. Some word that an English as a Second Language reader might be completely unfamiliar with. In fact an American reader might wonder at the usage of a word by the English author. What is chutney or daft? What does "twelve years back" mean? The notes in Chinese ended after about page 95 but underlined words in pink highlighter continued to the end of the book. Did the original reader finish the book? Was it someone else who underlined the occasional word on the remaining pages? I will never know. However, the previous reader added to my enjoyment of reading the mystery. I wonder if I will find another book with marginal notes in Chinese. I hope so.

By the way, I have been wondering if small English villages still have a grave digger who uses a shovel to prepare the ground for a funeral. I am pretty sure that here in the U.S. a grave digger operates a backhoe. According to Granger in the early or mid 1990s, England made it mandatory for people to be buried or cremated in biodegradable material. I don't think I have anything that is all cotton or linen to be buried in. I had better hang on for a few more years.

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